Prospective Launches New Mobile Ads In Switzerland

by Etienne Besson on 13 June 2012

in Recruitment

A couple of days ago Prospective Media (@ProspectiveAG) announced a new product: newspaper job ads with a QR code linking to real mobile job ad.

For the first time in many years I then bought a newspaper (CHF 4.20 for 120 pages of which I was only interested in less than 20) and found one of the new job ads.



The newspaper job ad is classic except for the QR code and the mention at the bottom that it’s a new product by Prospective. It also says that you can apply by providing just a link to your LinkedIn or Xing profile.



In the same newspaper edition I found two other job ads with QR codes. But they linked to mobile unfriendly sites. In my opinion this doesn’t make any sense since people usually scan QR codes with a mobile device.

One ad even had a link to an application form that would have been painful to complete even on a laptop or desktop. But I’m not writing about abusive ATS’s today…

The Prospective job ad is a real mobile ad for the following reasons:

  • first of all, the format of the ad is adapted to mobile devices. This means no need to do any acrobatics with two fingers in order to increase the font
  • big font size, easy to read on a smartphone. Again, no need for acrobatics
  • not just a lot of text, but a short intro and then clickable topics which will display additional details. This means that the information will just expand instead of having to reload on a new page each and every time
  • in relation to the previous point: fast load times



As an added bonus, the text is also very good. I’m well aware that most (corporate) HR professionals like myself suck at copywriting. But in this case I actually enjoyed reading the provided information.



A New Approach

Believe it or not, the “contact” section encourages potential candidates to get in touch with the HR Director and even provides a phone number. And it also states a postal address for applicants who want to apply via snail mail.

This is unusual, as job ads often request applicants to use the official (ATS) channels and some ads even mention that online applications will get a “preferential treatment”.

It gets better!

Frankly, I expected the online ad to be just a mobile friendly version of the printed text, maybe with a link to the company’s career page.

But the crazy thing is that you can actually apply from your mobile phone!

All you need to provide is your full name, your email address and a link to your LinkedIn or Xing profile. There’s also a comment field, but it’s optional.


What is really ground breaking

Aside from the excellent technical implementation, I believe that the real change lies in the attitude of the hiring companies.

The classic point of view is that HR only wants to get applications from people who are really interested in the job. This makes sense if you have to screen 50, 100, or even hundreds of CVs while most clearly don’t fit the requirements stated in the job ad.

On the other hand, there are some hard to fill positions. I will discreetly avoid the usual “war for talents” debate for now, but when you’re the one in need of employees, then making it difficult to apply is probably not the best tactic.

And this is another reason why I love this new approach so much. The online format allows active, passive, but also mildly active candidates to take note of these open positions while commuting or waiting for their lunch party. And applying takes only 2 minutes.

Yes, the danger is that lots and lots of people will apply. But this type of publication and application process also sends a strong signal that you’re not only interested in classic hardcore applications, but are also open to a conversation and are available in case of questions.

Added bonus

I find it fantastic that one of the first companies to use this innovative new method are the Swiss Federal Railways (@SBBJobs). While many companies on the free market stick to old and dusty methods, once again a state-owned company is showing us what is possible in the field of recruiting in Switzerland.

Additionally, I sent a fake application just to see how this works (of course I apologized) and got a very nice reply back from the HR Director.

Now how cool is this? And who wouldn’t want to apply for this company?

  • Eva Zils

    Great Post, Etienne.
    Yes, putting QR-Codes in print job ads without having a mobile-friendly site is just useless. I don’t understand how any agency, consultant or provider could recommend such a thing. That’s why I like Prospective’s new approach: they do not just sell a hype-QR-Code in print ads but deliver a full-service strategy (a mobile-friendly job ad, that is) that is in line with good HR marketing consulting.

    What they should add in the print ad version, however, is the way candidates and users have to deal with the QR-Code: many people just do not know what to do with a QR-Code – at least in Germany and France, but maybe the Swiss who are a very mobile-friendly people, already know better even if their social media recruiting efforts are still in childbirth ;-) 
    So a small reminder such as: “please scan this code with a suitable smartphone app. You will be automatically directed to the job ad” would be welcome.

    Another thing which could be a bit of a problem is that applicants have to enter their XING- and LinkedIn profile URL. I usually don’t know these URLs by heart and it might put off applicants to actually apply – which then might also be a good thing given that only people who are really interested and motivated (and smartphone-technically gifted) will send their application.

    • Etienne Besson

      Believe it or not, I scanned my first QR code this year. Before that I just didn’t see the need to figure out how this stuff works. So your recommendation to mention the need to install an app makes a lot of sense. Even in the “hinterwaeldlerisch” mobile-friendly Switzerland ;-)

      And while (fake) applying I also had to check my LinkedIn URL in order to be 100% sure (I always forget the “/in/” in the middle). Maybe something could be done with the API, although then candidates would have to memorize their login and password information. I agree that it’s not ideal yet, but I’m still very enthusiastic about this solution as you can fully use it on your mobile phone.

  • Marie-Marthe Joly

     Thanks Etienne for this very interesting post demonstrating a local change in recruitment.
    I have had the pleasure these times to see how Swiss HR are considering to embrace social media. They are in search of know how and tools. And yes, the “war of talent” is a reality for some companies right now, right here.

    Any HR Tug coming soon? :)

    • Etienne Besson

      You’re right, it’s really great to see that our colleagues are becoming more and more open to new ways of doing things! And thanks for mentioning “war for talents”. Now I have a sudden desire to watch Highlander and Terminator again ;-)

      And unfortunately I haven’t planned any new HRtug’s at the moment. I’m currently working Tue-Thu in Zurich, so it’s a bit more difficult. Do you think we could have one on a Monday?

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